Saturday, 21 April 2012

All's well that ends well

Despite all of its natural beauty the Dominican Republic just didn't click with us. We really enjoyed the quietness of our first anchorage, Bahia de las Aguilas and the magnificent climb up to see El Limón, but in the long run DR left a bitter-sweet taste in our mouths. Much like Boca Chica, Las Terrenas is a tourist town that attracts a great deal of working girls and foreign visitors in search of them. Many European and American expats settle there because of this "natural resource". We found the atmosphere in both towns disquieting and depressing. Brazen glances from burnt out, middle aged gringos followed girls around everywhere. I couldn't help but feel a part of the meat market, even in the company of Gabe and João. 
There was also garbage everywhere. Beaches and streets were awash with plastic wrappers and styrofoam cups. But what I found most heartbreaking in DR was the mistreatment of cats and dogs. City streets are full of battered, hungry animals that wonder around in search of their next meal. Dominicans have no sympathy or patience for them. They get kicked, run over and left to live out their miserable lives on empty stomachs. 
Dealing with Marina de Guerra, especially in Boca Chica, further cemented our sentiments toward DR. The day before our scheduled departure from port, Rodeo and 2 other boats traveling with us were boarded by the Customs and Immigration as well as Drug Enforcement officers. It was late Friday afternoon, and these guys had apparently started their weekend a few hours prematurely. They were drunk, rude and very unprofessional. We watched from our cockpit as one of them urinated on our neighbors' boat before boarding it. They later told us that one of the officers stole a camera while performing "a routine search of their boat". It was a farce. The four officers pulled up to Rodeo and began swearing at Gabe in spanish, laughing, until the marina manager, who brought them out on a tender warned them that Gabe speaks it fluently. That made them laugh even harder and they began to turn it all into a joke. They came down below requesting drinks, when we told them we had no alcohol on board, they started tossing cushions, opening cupboards and looking through personal items. It all seamed very superficial and pointless. At one point the Drug Enforcement officer pulled Gabe aside and asked if he wanted to buy drugs. We had no choice but to grin and bare it. We needed those clowns to clear us out of the country and give us the despacho for Puerto Rico. It was all very disheartening and we were all too happy to leave it behind. 
Now that we're in Puerto Rico we let out a quiet sigh of relief for having returned to the kind of cruising we love. Surrounded by clear waters, clean beaches and quiet anchorages we're swimming and diving again, back in our penny-pinching ways of making our own water and catching our own dinner. All is right with the world again. 
The Spanish Virgin Islands are shaping up to be great cruising grounds. 

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